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Zoot Suit (1981)

Edward James Olmos , Tyne Daly , Luis Valdez  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Edward James Olmos, Tyne Daly, Charles Aidman, Daniel Valdez, John Anderson
  • Directors: Luis Valdez
  • Writers: Luis Valdez
  • Producers: Peter Burrell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2003
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007J5VO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,332 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zoot Suit" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Recommendations

  • Editorial Reviews

    Part fascinating fact, part dazzling fiction, Zoot Suit is the blistering film adaptation of playwright Luis Valdez' critically acclaimed stage drama based on the "zoot suit riots" that rocked 1940s Los Angeles.When barrio leader Henry Reyna (Daniel Valdez) and a group of his friends are unjustly convicted on circumstantial evidence and sent to San Quentin, activist lawyers Alice Bloomfield (Tyne Daly) and George Shearer (Charles Aidman) fight the blatant racially motivated miscarriage of justice to win Henry and his friends their freedom.Featuring Edward James Olmos (as the mythical "Pachuco") in the role that catapulted him to stardom, Zoot Suit is a scorchingly searing and seductively provocative work that skillfully blends action, drama, romance and music!

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
    Format:VHS Tape
    Director Luis Valdez has done an outstanding job in bringing us this highly entertaining and informative picture of life in LA in the 1940's. The music, song, dance, and story in itself will make you cry, laugh and want to swing along with the film. Edward James Olmos demonstrates his many talents as he sings, dances, and plays El Pachuco, trying to convince the hero (Daniel Valdez) to use violence rather than intelligence to overcome prejudice by "Anglos" toward the Latin culture. Great theatrical props and settings along with an in-show audience makes you feel truly part of the whole production. Loved it!
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    17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Luis Valdez is the Mexican American Shakespeare! March 18, 2005
    Format:DVD
    This movie is California history

    come to life.

    It is a Mexican American story

    told by the master.

    Has has all the elements of a classic:

    tragedy, love and good music!
    Comment | 
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    18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars the real thing May 31, 2001
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    I worked with la gangs and lived in that world for five years and the fatalism, the clear rules and the self destructive Edward Almos over soul is so true to, "the way". Its like through art they reveal reality. Its as if gang movies that try to be real end up being false, while this art "pretense" reveals the truth. If you want to get "it" watch this. Then watch American Me.
    Comment | 
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    Zoot Suit takes a highly stylised approach to racism in the 40s, in particular the infamous 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder trial that saw a group of Zoot Suited `Chicanos' railroaded for a murder in one of the most outrageously unfair trials in American history. But rather than go for a grim courtroom drama, Luis Valdez' film uses it as the basis for a musical fantasy about racism and machismo dominated by Edward James Olmos' El Pachuco, a fantasy figure acting as both Greek Chorus and instigator, with attitude and bad advice to spare. The director's brother Daniel Valdez does double-duty as self-destructive leading man and composer of many the songs, and does a good job of both (sadly the soundtrack only made it to LP). There are some liberties with the truth - names have been changed and the 22 accused are whittled down to a fictionalized four for dramatic convenience - although the most surreal and unbelievable aspects of the trial are sadly accurate: the defendants weren't allowed clean clothes or haircuts to ensure that they looked more `criminal,' had to stand whenever their name was mentioned and the prosecution really did produce a witness from the LA Sheriff's Office who gave testimony that Mexicans were predisposed to commit murder because of their `Aztec heritage' of human sacrifice.

    There's no attempt to hide that this is unashamedly a filmed play and there are problems with the approach: the sporadic cutaways to the theatre audience are more distraction than anything else and by filming on the original theatre sets the film occasionally hits problems with the cinematography - the vivid colors are excellent, but the tendency to lose focus on anyone not standing center-stage (something that happens to Charles Aidman in particular) is irritatingly sloppy.
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    10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Zoot Suit June 29, 2004
    Format:VHS Tape
    I saw this on the Independent Film many years ago, very good film, revolves around Gangs but gangs in the 1940's.
    Also a film about Latinos (my people) and the problems they face in the inner city.
    It's much better than those terrible soap opera's in Mexico, this film is a musical but it's also a drama focusing on different Hispanic characters.
    Edward James Olmos career is synomonus with these type of films
    most notable "American Me", "Stand and Deliver", "My family"
    a great actor who is part of the real population.
    Despite the great performances the film does suffer from
    its story, you know several hot headed characters with their
    attitude and lifestyles are only headed downhill and their
    fates are predetermined.
    Still "Zoot Suit" is a good film.
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    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Genius Director December 1, 1998
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    I thought it was genius on the director's part. Originally this was a play and in the movie he kept it like that--showing the audience involved
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars ZoOt SuiT June 15, 2000
    Format:VHS Tape
    This is a spectacular display of the 1940's and a wonderful celebration of the Chicano culture!! A must see for any fan of La Bamba. Mastermind director Valdez creates and captures the escence in the life of a zoot suiter. Backed up by an amazing soundtrack of the toe tapping art of Swing music, you can't miss with "Zoot Suit"!!
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    An interesting outlook on the Chicano culture. Showing how difficult it is to identify with one of the two cultures they live in.
    The game between reality and the theather play is very creative.
    When I grow up I want to be as cool as Edward James Olmos is in
    this movie.
    Comment | 
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